PORTAGE PARK — A Ravenswood vegan bakery is bringing its treats to Portage Park, but the owner needs the community’s assistance to buy equipment for the cafe.
Mindful Baking is moving into 5035 W. Montrose Ave., which has been empty since Little Lulu’s Italian Ice closed in September. It will be the bakery’s first retail location after seven years in business, and it will also serve as a coffee shop. Owner Diane Mejia started the bakery from her home and long has operated out of a wholesale kitchen in Ravenswood.
Mejia has spent the past few months rehabbing the Portage Park storefront, rebranding her products with an updated logo and working with the owner of the space to include treats from Little Lulu’s.
Mejia is preparing for a Dec. 11 opening, but she launched a fundraiser to help offset the costs of construction and secure necessary equipment to make the coffee shop a reality.
She is asking for support in buying a refrigerator and freezer that will showcase her cakes and pastries and an espresso machine to serve hot drinks with coffee from Evanston-based Reprise Coffee.
Mejia also hopes the extra money will help cover rent for the beginning of December until the cafe opens.
“I want to make sure everything is running smoothly” before opening, Mejia said.
The fundraiser has raised just more than $500 of its $15,000 goal. It runs until Dec. 27, and Mejia will only receive the money if it’s fully backed.
If Mejia doesn’t raise enough money, she said she will have to rent a fridge and espresso maker, but she’d rather own the equipment.
With minimal vegan and cafe options in Portage Park, Mejia is excited to bring “fresh and funky” vibes to the neighborhood.
“The space is great, and I feel like it will be a good addition to the neighborhood,” Mejia previously told Block Club. “I don’t know what to expect, but it will be worth it.”
Mejia launched Mindful Baking after being diagnosed with severe gluten intolerance. She makes decadent vegan cakes, doughnuts, muffins, pies and more, and she sells her products at farmers markets. But she’s long wanted to take her business to the next level and open a brick-and-mortar spot.
“We get seven people a day asking to come in, [but] we have no retail presence,” she said.
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